Of all the seemingly massive mistakes Brad Treliving has already made in his short stint as the new General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, one of the biggest has to be a move he decided not to make.
Fingers can definitely be pointed at the brutal signings of Ryan Reaves and John Klingberg, who had shown plenty of signs of being well past their primes and not worth the money, but not signing one of the Toronto Maple Leafs biggest stars has to take the cake of mistakes for a forgettable summer.
Treliving also brought in notable names like Tyler Bertuzzi and Max Domi while resigning Auston Matthews and David Kampf, who have all had their ups and downs individually aside from the superstar from Arizona.
But by far the biggest mistake of Treliving’s first summer for the Toronto Maple Leafs has to be deciding to wait on a William Nylander extension.
Toronto Maple Leafs GM’s Biggest Mistake Was a Move He Didn’t Make
This past offseason was the team’s first opportunity to lock up both Matthews and Nylander long-term, opting to commit to the former and not the latter bringing into question what Treliving was thinking.
We are officially 17 games into the 2023-24 season, and Nylander has a point in every game, putting up 27 points and 12 goals during that span, playing as the team’s best player so far.
Unfortunately, Toronto Maple Leafs fans are left wondering what’s next for the Swedish superstar rather than taking a moment to credit his brilliance because he’ll officially become an unrestricted free agent in the coming offseason.
Currently tied for 4th in the league in points, it’s tough to argue with Nylander demanding a number starting in the tens of millions, more likely looking in the $11 million AAV which could cripple the Leafs long term.
If Treliving had been smart and recognized the team has one of the leagues most elite talents on a steal of a deal at $6.9 million per season and decided the best time to lock him up was in the summer, the Toronto Maple Leafs could’ve strongly benefited from the idea of a team friendly deal lower than $10 million AAV.
It’s now impossible to argue with a Nylander contract extension anywhere short of $10 million AAV, with that deal looking like a steal if it is going to be for 8 years. In his past 2 seasons prior to this, Nylander has posted 80 and 87 point seasons at the age of 25 and 26, so it’s not like this incredible play was impossible to see coming.
For a GM who’s had a tough start to his tenure with the Toronto Maple Leafs, not deciding to extend Nylander at the right time has to be his biggest mistake because it’s a move that will only cause the team more casualties in the future.
A trade of a player that caliber is one you will always lose, but given the situation now, how can the team not at least explore it if Nylander doesn’t commit prior to the March 8th trade deadline. Losing a player of his caliber to the open market and getting nothing in return is a move that could cripple your franchise and set them back decades.
If you were to ask me, I would be pushing to sign Nylander right now and worry about the contractual issues down the line. John Tavares’ deal is set to come off the books in two off-seasons.